card reader cashback

New proposals set out by the government to protect the UK’s cash system for key groups, including the elderly and vulnerable, could see retailers of all sizes able to offer cashback without a purchase in their communities.

According to the Treasury, the move would help ensure those who do not currently use alternative payments, such as cards, mobiles and e-wallets, are not left behind in an increasingly digital world.

In particular, the government highlighted that cash still remains crucial for many elderly and vulnerable individuals who find cash more accessible than digital payments or easier to budget.

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It follows an open letter written by Age UK to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in May 2020, urging the FCA to ensure older and vulnerable customers could still access cash during the first lockdown.

At the time, Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Many older people are particularly reliant on cash and so ensuring that cash supplies are uninterrupted is particularly important to them as lockdown continues.”

Under the proposal to enable cashback without a purchase, the government has suggested it could help to keep cash widely available by reducing cash infrastructure costs.

Last year, consumers received £3.8 billion of cashback when paying for items at a till – making it the second most used method for withdrawing cash in the UK behind ATMs.

The government emphasised that current EU law make it difficult for businesses to offer cashback when people are not paying for goods which has been a barrier to widespread adoption.

Following the end of the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, the government says it is considering scrapping these rules.

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We know that cash is still really important for consumers and businesses – that’s why we promised to legislate to protect access for everyone who needs it.

“We want to harness the same creative thinking that has driven innovation in digital payments to maintain the UK’s cash system and make sure people can easily access cash in their local area.”

Now the government is seeking views on its approach to this legislation from consumer organisations, businesses, financial institutions, providers of ATM and payment services and others through a call for evidence.

The call for evidence opened on 15 October 2020 and will run for six weeks.

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